With crowdfunding sites gaining popularity as a way to fund ideas, you may find yourself wondering what happens after money is raised. Back in December 2011 we did a Q&A with the founder and CEO of social enterprise Yellow Leaf Hammocks, Joe Demin. At that time Yellow Leaf Hammocks was about three weeks into a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to build and manufacture a stand for the company’s sustainable hammocks.

Yellow Leaf Hammock logo

A Crowdfunding Story, Continued…

Having already raised the lion’s share of the ask, Joe and his team still had $3000 left to raise within 9 days. And, as explained in the Kickstarter rules, the entire amount would have to be raised for Yellow Leaf to have access to any of the raised funds.

The group’s hard work paid off. Yellow Leaf Hammocks was able to inspire a total of $11,400 worth of donations to fund their project on Kickstarter, and they did so with 90 backers and 4 days left on the clock. We caught up with Joe to find out about how they were able to garner the remaining the funds and to learn about what happens after money is successfully raised.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks Q&A Follow-Up with Joe Demin

Joe DeminQ | Innov8Social:  Joe, thanks for joining us again. And many congrats on the successful campaign! How was it raising the final $3K? Did you try any different techniques than earlier in the campaign to inspire support?

A | Joe Demin, Yellow Leaf Hammocks: Thanks so much! The homestretch was a little nerve-wracking at times, to be honest.

We had heard from a lot of people that donations tend to slow down in the middle of a campaign, then build momentum again during the final days—but we didn’t want to take that risk & come down to the wire!

Our outreach was pretty consistent over the course of the campaign, which was reflected in the fairly consistent pace of pledges. We continued to share daily facebook & twitter updates and e-mailed our supporters once or twice a week. We really liked using the Campaign Update function on Kickstarter to keep our donors & supporters fully in the loop.

Toward the end of the campaign, we were worried about overwhelming people with ongoing messages, so we tried to reach out on a more personalized basis. It’s human nature for some people to procrastinate—we ended up with people pledging at the very last minute! One huge pledge came in with less than two minutes left in the campaign!

Through the whole campaign, it was awesome to watch Kickstarter’s statistics and see how people found us—almost 1/3 of our donations came through the social networks (for example, people who saw the campaign in a friend’s facebook status). It was amazing to see that our fans were inspiring a whole new group of people to become involved!

Q | Innov8Social: So, what happened immediately after the funds were raised? And how did you & your team feel when you found out you had achieved to goal?

A | Joe : We were ecstatic when we hit $10,000! It was really gratifying and humbling to feel the support and excitement of this amazing community of backers. We posted the news through all our social networks and tried to just express our excitement and gratitude as we soaked in the news!At that point, we had 4 days left in the campaign, but a lot of people didn’t realize they could still pledge after the goal was reached. We did one last push to make sure people knew they could still get a hammock in time for Christmas & be a part of the campaign. That spurred another round of backers, so we ended up exceeding our goal by nearly 15%!Once the campaign officially closed, we immediately shipped out the first batch of Kickstarter rewards (the ones that were meant as holiday gifts), then took a nice relaxing break to celebrate over the holidays!Q | Innov8Social: You guys had set up some great rewards for donors. How has the process of following up with the rewards been?

A | Joe : It is definitely time-consuming! I think we underestimated the time it would take. It was a challenge to organize the process and there was a mad dash to get those initial rewards out in time for Christmas. We are continuing to work on fulfillment for a couple of the backer levels and we’re especially excited about getting these first stands manufactured and shipped out for spring!
That being said, putting these packages in the mail is one of my favorite things to do! We are so grateful to our backers and it’s nice to be able to express that gratitude in a meaningful way. I’ve personally hand- written a Thank You note to each person and we’ve sent them each a Polaroid from the Mlabri village.
We also worked with a designer to put together a ‘Rewards Suite’ of beautiful, unique gift cards and stationery, because we wanted it to be a really special experience when people opened up their rewards package.It meant a lot to us that people saw our vision and supported us and we wanted them to know we were truly thankful.
Q | Innov8Social:  Does Kickstarter do any follow-up after funds are raised? Do you have to complete any additional forms?

A | Joe : No. Before you start the project, you do all the necessary paperwork & get them your financial info. When the project closes, they transfer you the funds (minus their fee). They also send you an email with some broad tips to engage your backers as you move forward.When the deadline hits, your project page is immediately ‘retired’ from active duty- a notice goes up with the end date and final funding amount. People can still watch your video and you can continue to post updates as the project progresses, which is great.Q | Innov8Social: Finally, do you have any tips for social entrepreneurs on what to do (and what not to do)  after raising funds on a crowd sourcing platform?A | Joe : Things don’t slow down when the campaign closes. Once you are lucky enough to reach your goal, you have to immediately switch gears and begin delivering on your side of the pledge.

Plan ahead for rewards fulfillment and make sure that you continue to give your backers the best experience possible. A pledge on Kickstarter is more than a purchase on your website and people are really vested in your success. They’re genuinely excited to hear about how the project is going and it is awesome to continue to interact with them afterwards.

It is amazing to have this whole new community of people who share our vision. We’ve received really touching emails from people who love their rewards packages and we’re looking forward to staying in touch with everyone who was a part of this project. Update your supporters!
It can feel overwhelming to realize that you need to a) keep up with your day-to-day work b) manage your rewards fulfillment and c) actually build the project you funded! Just hold onto the excitement you felt when you launched your project and remember that now you have an awesome group of people cheering you on!
Many thanks once again to Joe and the Yellow Leaf Hammocks team. We can’t wait to see the new hammock stand prototypes!
Forbes releases a number of enticing lists each year. Popular among them are Forbes 400 (the 400 wealthiest Americans), World’s Billionaires, Celebrity 100, and the Most Powerful People list.  Intriguing individuals, scintillating celebrities, and powerful leaders top the lists, which tabulate based on money, power, and influence.Social innovation, outlier or game-changer? A seeming outlier in this assessment is social innovation—which looks at impact, social accountability, social entrepreneurship, and social change. Well, with the release of their newest list, it looks like Forbes may see social innovation as far more than an outlier standing in the distance.

With ‘Impact 30‘–the first list of it’s kind ever published by Forbes’ in its 94-year history, one may even say that the publication sees social innovators as center field disrupters, team-players, and game-changers.

A look at the team behind Forbes’ Impact 30

Forbes worked with social innovation luminaries such as Ashoka’s Bill Drayton, Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Antony Bugg-Levine, MIT Poverty Action Lab, and ImpactAssets’ Jed Emerson to identify innovators leading the way or forging the path in health, innovative education, impact investment, clean energy, sustainable food production, and social innovation policy.

30 social innovators changing the world, a preview

The list features 30 individuals/groups engaged in social entrepreneurship. Here are a few of the organizations represented in the list.
You can find the full list here.
New B-eginnings
The list represents new beginnings. For Forbes, it marks a beginning of recognizing the emerging field of social innovation alongside traditional sectors of business, finance, and celebrity. For social innovators, the list is a beginning, serving as an introduction and handshake (or high-five) to new consumers, new financiers, and new forms of publicity.
And for policy, legal structure, and business organization supporting and encouraging social innovation, the list not only features the founders of B Lab (Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy) but also recognizes a number of companies that have adopted the “B corporation” certification and have pioneered triple bottom line accounting methods (i.e. GIIRS).
Here are the B corps that were recognized in Forbes’ Impact 30 list:
This weekend saw the arrival of exciting news, I was accepted into the New Leaders Council Fellowship 2012 program for Silicon Valley. I think it will be a great opportunity to build on leadership and communication skills, meet passionate individuals with similar interests, and nuance my understanding of social entrepreneurship and its practice.

What is New Leaders Council (NLC)?
Formed in 2005, New Leaders Council was founded with the specific goal of creating a progressive leadership development infrastructure for young professionals who have initial career experience. It supports a unique application of social innovation to create and support progressive political entrepreneurs–who can go on to engage skills in roles of local government, entrepreneurship, education, and their workplaces.
5 Facts about NLC Institute
The NLC Institute is the training program that enables the work of NLC. Here are 5 facts about the NLC Institute and its reach.
  1. It’s for ultimate weekend warrior. The NLC curriculum program is 5 months long (starting in January) and requires a commitment of 1 full weekend per month.
  2. There’s no “i” in NLC. The program focuses on teamwork and achieving goals together.
  3. Mentor mindset. Fellows are paired with mentors to broaden and build upon career goals.
  4. Volunteer run. Perhaps most amazing is that the entire Institute is volunteer-run. Fundraising projects by NLC fellows support programming costs and the Advisory Board, chaired by NLC CEO Mark Walsh, oversee broader fundraising efforts.
  5. 20 places and growing. NLC Institute programs are in twenty cities across the country and growing.
What happens after you graduate from NLC?
NLC alumni are part of a broad network spanning 600+ alumni in 20 cities/communities across the country. Local alumni engagement involves quarterly reunions, networking events, webinars, and access to active job boards.
What is the NLC fellowship application process?
Individuals can be nominated for an NLC fellowship or can self-nominate. The NLC application process involves answering a questionnaire and responding to essay questions about leadership experience, interest, and future goals. Selected applicants are interviewed by local board leaders and alumni, and fellows are notified of their acceptance in mid-December.
How do I find out if there is an NLC Fellowship program near me?
You can check on the NLC Institute chapters page here.
Social innovation fellowships & accelerator program
If you are looking to build your social innovation IQ through a fellowship or accelerator program, be sure to check out our growing lists + their deadlines below. Good luck!
As we look to 2012, a review of 2011 through a social innovation lens will definitely show major legislation and policy changes aimed to support and encourage social innovation.

Sometimes 6 + 1 is greater than 7
Perhaps chief among them is the benefit corporation movement. Six states joined Maryland in passing benefit corporation legislation in 2011 to make a total of 7 states with new for-profit corporate forms that shift focus from maximizing shareholder wealth to creating a material positive impact on society and the environment.
Notably, the last two states that have passed benefit corporation legislation represent the 1st and 3rd most populous states in the country. Thus the passage of the bills represents support from broad, expansive constituencies.
Specifically, New York was the most recent to join the benefit corporation club whose members already include California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont, and Maryland.
Articles and Posts about New York’s New Benefit Corporation Legislation
Since the passage of New York’s bill on Monday, there have been a number of articles and posts about the new legislation. Here’s a compiled list of where to learn more about the New York benefit corporation law:
  1. Squadron-Silver Bill to Bring Benefit Corporations to New York Becomes Law (
  2. New York State Senate and Assembly Pass Benefit Corporation Legislation (Buffalo Rising)
  3. Will Benefit Corporations Change the Way NYC Does Big Business? (
  4. Why New York Just Became a Better State for Businesses (Forbes)
  5. This Just In…New York Passes Benefit Corporation Legislation (Innov8Social)
  6. Benefit corporations debut in the state (Westfair Online)
  7. NY Gets Friendlier to Socially Responsible Business (WNYC)
  8. New Legal Structures for ‘Social Entrepreneurs’ (Wall Street Journal) –> read the comments for more info
  9. NY Law Creates New Kind of Corporation (CSR Wire)
  10. Cuomo signs legislation allowing benefit corporations (Rochester Business Journal)
  11. NY law establishes benefit corporations (Wall Street Journal)
  12. Occupying the Future: Benefit Corporations now opening shop in NY, six other states (Daily Kos)
  13. New York Unanimously Passes Benefit Corporation Bill (socentlaw)
  14. Keepin’ it Local – Help Push for Benefit Corporations in New York (The Good Neighborhood)
Special discount from Back to the Roots
Having met the founders of Back to the Roots at the SF Green Festival 2011, I was immediately struck by the social innovation concept and the follow-through of the company’s dedicated founders.
To help Innov8Social celebrate our first 6 months, Back to the Roots is generously offering readers a 10% discount on their gourmet mushroom kits. Curious about how coffee grounds can yield up to 1 1/2 pounds of edible mushrooms in 10 days? Check out this fascinating 19 second time-lapse video….
Get the code on the Innov8Social Facebook pageYou can go to the Innov8Social Facebook page to find out the coupon code.
Innov8Social is 6 months new! It has been a unique and exhilarating experience formulating the concept, creating content, and finding a voice and niche for this site. And, by all definitions…at 6 months old, there is lots to learn and grow ahead.paper heartThanks.

This is a post to say thanks and mention some of the supporters, mentors, and practitioners that have inspired our posts. And we have worked with the superstar social entrepreneurs at Back to the Roots to provide readers with a discount for their truly innovative gourmet mushroom kits….find out more here!
When you start a new project in an area unknown and unexplored, you may find that mentors seem to arise from unlikely places. Deep gratitude for great insight, ideas, and food for thought:

Social entrepreneurs
At the heart of this effort is providing useful information, tools, and news about social innovation. So many of the true inspirations have been those individuals and organizations actually in the field. Here are a few we have had the pleasure of connecting with:

Social entrepreneur legal community
It has been immeasurably helpful to tap legal practitioners well-versed in the field to better understand how policy affects the legal landscape for social entrepreneurs and how law can evolve to support and encourage social innovation. A special thank you to the attorneys and policymakers who have provided great insight and been able to answer the big and small questions about social entrepreneurship law.
You inspire the best work. Attending events, seminars, conferences, hearings, one-to-one meet-ups, and talks has been made more meaningful knowing that there will be others interested in reading about key takeaways and insights. Through the last few months it has been encouraging to see new levels of interaction, such as the sharing and additions to the 50+ social innovation fellowships post. Thank you.Cheers to the social innovation exploration so far, and all that is to come!

A Closer Look at a Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign for Social Enterprise

We have looked at crowdfunding through investment by following federal legislation that would make it easier for start-ups and small businesses to raise capital from non-accredited investors.

But what about crowdfunding through donation? How does it work, and what is it like to actually choose a crowdfunding platform and launch a crowdfunding campaign?

Meet Yellow Leaf Hammocks

We turned to a social enterprise that is learning about crowdfunding for donation first-hand. Yellow Leaf Hammocks is an innovative company that produces unique hammocks handwoven by artisan weavers using proprietary designs made of over 150,000 interwoven loops and spanning up to 4.5 miles of yarn. The weavers are members of an indigenous tribe in north Thailand who have been able to create economic and empowerment opportunities through their artistry.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks launched a Kickstarter campaign in mid-November 2011 to raise $10,000 to build and initiate manufacturing of a new Swiss-designed hammock stand prototype. They are 9 days and about $3K away from from their goal. You can see the video explaining the product and campaign below.

Then, see below for a Q&A with Yellow Leaf Hammocks founder Joe Demin on his company’s decision to launch a crowdfunding for donation campaign, their initial steps, and what they have learned through the process.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks Kickstarter Campaign

What to Know Before Launching a Crowdfunding Campaign: Q&A with Yellow Leaf Hammocks Founder Joe Demin

Q | Innov8Social: Thanks Joe for taking a few minutes with us and congratulations on the success of the Kickstarter campaign so far. As an initial question, how did you first decide that launching a crowdfunding campaign might be a good fit for your social enterprise?

A | Joe Demin, Yellow Leaf Hammocks: For a long time, we’d been kicking around the idea of a furniture product that supported our hammocks. The Sitting Hammock is relatively compact, so it is a great option for urban hammockers and people who want to be able to hammock indoors- except that there has not been a good stand out on the market.

We knew that designing and manufacturing a hammock stand would be a huge project to take on!

For a young boot-strapped company like ours, we have to carefully consider budget in everything we do. From the beginning, we have wanted to build this company independently to make sure that we can remain focused on our vision and not lose sight of our social mission.

Crowdfunding encompasses lot of the traditional steps to product development- its market research, product design, an investor pitch, a marketing campaign and pre-sales all in one exciting campaign- so it seemed like the perfect alternative to raising money from investors and taking on a huge risk!

By going directly to the public, we are assuring ourselves that there is going to be an audience for this cool new product we’ve designed and we feel more confident about jumping into manufacturing and pushing this out for the spring.

Q | Innov8Social:  How did you assess various crowdfunding platforms? And what were the deciding factors that ultimately led you to Kickstarter?

A | Joe : There is definitely a crowdfunding boom going on right now- you’re right, there are a lot of options and even niche platforms that target specific types of projects, like non-profits, music, etc.

For us, Kickstarter appealed most because it is the largest funding platform. We’ve learned that you can’t really count anyone out when it comes to hammocks- hammock fanatics come from all age ranges, industries and regions.

We appreciated the fact that they have a thorough vetting process, so there is not a lot of clutter to cut through- the projects on the site are inspiring and crazy and daring, but the people behind them know what they’re talking about.

I think some people can be intimidated by the “all or nothing” model on Kickstarter (if you don’t raise 100% of your goal, you don’t receive any funds). For us, this was absolutely the way to go. We wouldn’t want to have half the money to build out the prototype because it would be tough to deliver on the promises made to backers! Plus, it gives you a ton of motivation to set your goal carefully and then work like crazy to reach it!

Q | Innov8Social:  How was the process of setting up the campaign? What was the most challenging aspect? The most surprising?

A | Joe : The first thing we had to do was design the stand!! We worked with an amazing engineer, Bryce Gibson, to go through several rounds of designs and come up with the sleek, versatile design that is at the center of the campaign. It was a little bit like hammock-stand “Survivor,” with a group of friends and advisers weighing in and voting on each round of the designs.

The hardest part for us was creating the video- we had so much that we wanted to share, between our mission and our current products, before we even got to the stand itself!! We ended up with a really long video by Kickstarter standards- but we have gotten a ton of compliments on it and I think it’s been a huge help in terms of energizing people with the story and getting them excited about “Do Good. Relax.”

A big surprise was realizing that a lot of media want to cover something that’s already succeeding- so you are really on your own in terms of creating that initial momentum before media start to pick it up and spread the news! We also realized that there’s really no guarantee that Kickstarter itself is going to take an interest in your campaign. They can be really instrumental in sharing and highlighting specific projects within their vast community, but they haven’t shown much interest in our campaign. You never know what the considerations are behind the scenes for other people!

Q | Innov8Social: What are 3 things you would suggest to social entrepreneurs thinking about starting a crowdfunding for donation campaign online?

A | Joe :  A generous timeline and some groundwork are essential. I would already love to go back and give myself twice the time to prepare! I read a lot of articles (like this one!) about other people’s experiences and spent some time observing campaigns I admired. Sometimes it seems like all you hear about are the runaway successes that raise $100,000, but a lot of campaigns don’t work, so that was important to me. I wanted to understand why campaigns fail as well as why they succeed.

Creating rewards that excite and engage your backers is another key to success. The point of crowdfunding is that you aren’t simply asking for donations. You are creating an experience for people- they get to be a part of your mission and take home a tangible reminder of their support. At this time of year, we knew we were going to see a lot of holiday shopping traffic. Because a part of our mission is to spark creativity, we decided we wanted to offer our backers a chance to design their own hammock. But each of our rewards was designed to help recreate that feeling of “Do Good. Relax.” and engage people for the long-term. The most exciting reward, of course, is that you can be one of the first to receive a customized Sitting Hammock Stand!

Once you’ve outlined your project goal and the rewards you’re going to offer, it’s critical to have a solid launch. You need to have some built-in momentum before you click that “launch” button. We should have been more aggressive about our PR strategy in advance of the campaign, but we did a good job reaching out to our internal network and community. They backed us early and we hit $1000 within three hours of launching. I think there is a statistic that if you reach 20% of your goal within the first 4 days, your chance of a successful project is 90%- that’s how important your launch is.

Q | Innov8Social:  Finally, what are your hopes for this campaign. What do you hope to get, and to give?

A | Joe : We’ve got a little more than a week left and we are on track to hit our $10,000 goal! For me, that is the number one hope right now.

In the long term, I am excited to have introduced ourselves to so many new people this month. I know it’s a little insane to expect people to go crazy for hammocks in the middle of winter, but we really think that this stand can revolutionize the way people relax year-round.

I really can’t wait to start sending out the rewards! I think people are going to love what they receive in the mail. We’ve got cool things heading their way that will help them feel connected to our mission and our weavers and will help them relax at a really hectic time of year!

The feedback we’ve gotten and the growth of our community has just been amazing already. I’m glad we could share our experience and I hope I can help future social entrepreneurs succeed in their crowd- funding efforts!

Innov8Social:  A big thank you to Joe and Yellow Leaf Hammocks team for sharing their experience and insights. We look forward to following up after the campaign concludes on Sunday, December 18th 2011. You can help them reach their fundraising goals by donating here.

I had the pleasure of meeting and introducing Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora from Back to the Roots when they spoke at Sustainable Home & Organic Gardening stage at the 2011 Green Festival in San Francisco.  And while we worked through a few AV issues before they presented, I looked around to see the audience filling quickly. By the time we started the session I saw every seat filled with tens of people standing or sitting in the aisles to catch the action.I hadn’t heard about their adventures in mushroom farming which I soon came to see put me in a super-minority. As they talked the audience sat in close attention, clapping, laughing, and oohing with delight at their story, their journey, and their amazing and innovative product.Still Wondering, What is Social Innovation?It’s been 6 months since Innov8Social launched and my favorite question to answer (which also happens to be the most frequently asked one) still is so, what is social innovation again?

You can read a post about it here, but you see it in action below. Nikhil and Alejandro’s journey is the shiny example of how social innovation can reuse waste, how gardening and food production can be local, and how social cause can find an entrepreneurial outlet. It is not the story of every social enterprise or social innovator, but it showcases the untapped potential of connecting cause with business.

And as Nikhil and Alejandro emphasize below, you have to have the courage to ask the the unasked questions first….

The Courage to Ask: Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora speak at TEDxYSE 

Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora are the founders of Back to the Roots. This is their presentation at TEDxYSE:Unleashing Young Social Entrepreneurs on November 13th, 2010

Location, location, location. It is a key factor in deciding where to live, work, and play. And it can also be a telling indicator of where to launch.Introducing: Opportunity Scores by Opportunity IndexHuffington Post overviewed a new tool that enables you to assess the potential of any geographic area in the U.S. based on factors such as education, median income, poverty level, unemployment, and availability of affordable housing. These opportunity scores, part of the Opportunity Index project by Opportunity Nation, give an apples-to-apples comparison of counties and states.

How Can the Opportunity Index Be Useful to Social Innovators?

Understanding opportunity scores can help social innovators and social entrepreneurs decide where to launch, where to expand, and where to engage,  in surprising ways. Social ventures rely on business acumen and compelling social cause and arguably, launching in a place that is known for its economic and social stability and mobility could offer advantage at crucial stages of a social enterprise’s growth and development.

Alternatively, the Index can also help identify communities and region that could benefit most from social enterprise. Not the top-scorers, but the cities, counties, and states that are struggling. Knowing cities that have scored high gives us a learning tool to compare and contrast what has helped these cities succeed and how social innovation and social enterprise and can help rebuild and uplift cities with the greatest need, and the greatest potential.

Perfect 5’s for Opportunity: Method and Findings

The granularity of the information in the Opportunity Index extends to the county level. To find cities, I identified top-performing counties and selected a city within that county for the list. These cities were usually the largest cities or centers for local government.

I was anticipating finding a number of large cities along with medium-sized suburbs. Interestingly, the vast majority of perfect scores went to smaller towns, cities, and townships. These seemly tight-knit communities appear to have been able to weather, withstand, and in some cases, even flourish in the economic downturn–according to the success criteria of the Index.

37 Cities With Top Opportunity Scores

So here they are, in no particular order. Thirty-seven cities that scored an overall perfect 5 for opportunity based on indicators including unemployment, affordable housing, median income, education, and poverty.

  1. Quincy, Massachusetts (Norfolk County)
  2. Edgartown, Massachussetts (Dukes County)
  3. Derry, New Hampshire (Rockingham County)
  4. Burlington, Vermont (Chittenden County)
  5. Yonkers, New York (Westchester County)
  6. Hackensack, New Jersey (Bergen County)
  7. Hempstead, New York (Nassau County)
  8. Franklin Township, New Jersey (Somerset County)
  9. Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey (Morris County)
  10. Raritan Township, New Jersey (Hunterdon County)
  11. Norristown, Pennsylvania (Montgomery County)
  12. West Chester, Pennsylvania (Chester County)
  13. Columbia, Maryland (Howard County)
  14. Rockville, Maryland (Montgomery County)
  15. Ashburn, Virginia (Loudon County)
  16. Fairfax, Virginia (Fairfax County)
  17. Charlottesville, Virginia (Albemarle County)
  18. Ashland, Virginia (Hanover County)
  19. Jamestown, Virginia (James County)
  20. Cumming, Georgia (Forsyth County)
  21. Fayetteville, Georgia (Fayette County)
  22. Franklin, Tennessee (Williamson County)
  23. Delaware, Ohio (Delaware County)
  24. Troy, Michigan (Oakland County)
  25. Mequon, Wisconsin (Ozaukee County)
  26. Waukesha, Wisconsin (Waukesha County)
  27. Naperville, Illinois (DuPage County)
  28. Carmel, Indiana (Hamilton County)
  29. Fredricksburg, Texas (Gillespie County)
  30. Overland Park, Kansas (Johnson County)
  31. Castle Rock, Colorado (Douglas County)
  32. Boulder, Colorado (Boulder County)
  33. Grandby, Colorado (Grand County)
  34. Silverthorne, Colorado (Summit County)
  35. Los Alamos, New Mexico (Los Alamos County)
  36. Park City, Utah (Summit County)
  37. San Rafael, California (Marin County)
 Did you know global water issues can affect education, health, deforestation, and can especially impact women and girls?Do you think you can create a business plan for unique, sustainable, and scaleable social innovations that address these kinds of issues?


If so, there’s a way to take your idea to the next level. In the video below, Brian Matthay, Program Director of Imagine H20 explains the organization’s creative approach to inspiring social innovation for global water issues.

Imagine H20 is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering people to solve water problems. It is based in San Francisco, California and hosts an annual competition for global water solutions. The prize baskets run upwards of $100K, with this year’s grand prize totaling over $200K.

Not just a one-time prize

Perhaps the best aspect is that the competition doesn’t end with a strong finish. Winners of Imagine H20 join a specialized accelerator program to further develop their ideas, seek guidance from experts and specialists, and put them in the running for cash resources, in-kind services, and global exposure.

Facts to inspire action

Imagine H20 highlights statistics that are startling and serve as a call to social innovation action. Here are a few eye-catching ones:
  • Water related diseases are the leading cause of child death, killing 4,500 children per day (UNICEF)
  • 1.1 billion people live without clean water today (World Water Forum)
  • 20% of clean water is lost due to leaks (EPA)
  • Water scarcity affects every continent and affects 4 out of every 10 people (World Health Organization)
  • Demand in the U.S. has tripled in the past 30 years while the population has grown only 50% (Goldman Sachs)
  • Up to $1 trillion is needed to rebuild America’s aging water infrastructure (Goldman Sachs)

How to Win $200K for Your Social Innovation Business Plan

Though the 2011 entries were due by November 15, 2011—here are steps to know about the 2011 process to help put you on track to compete in next year’s competition.
  • Be an individual or team comprised of members older than 18 years (who are not previous winners or finalists)
  • Focus on the year’s specific theme (i.e. the 2011 theme was wastewater) and consult the ImagineH20 competition guidelines to find out what kinds of solutions are being sought.
  • Teams must form a for-profit business entity before receiving any prizes.
  • Teams must submit entries in 1 of 2 tracks: A) Pre-Revenue Track or B) Early Revenue Track
  • Teams must submit an executive summary of a business plan for a social innovation venture (using a designated template) addressing the year’s specific water crisis theme. Along with resumes of each team member, and the designated entry fee.
  • 2011 applications were accepted from September 1st 2011 to November 15th 2011.
  • The top finalists from each track will be invited to participate in Round 2.
  • In 2011, 2 grand prizes and 4 runner-up prizes are slated to be announced at the ImagineH20 Showcase